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Civil Liabilities and Other Legal Issues for Probation/Parole Officers and Supervisors, 4th Edition

NCJ Number
Phillip Lyons; Todd Jermstad
Date Published
March 2013
306 pages
This report reviews the types of civil and criminal liabilities that probation/parole officers can face under State and Federal law, as well as under administrative rules.
The various provisions of these laws are reviewed, with attention to the provisions and sanctions to which an officer may be exposed in her or his work. In addition, the officer may be subject to administrative disciplinary proceedings that can result in transfer, suspension, demotion, dismissal, or other forms of sanction. The constitutional protection against double jeopardy does not necessarily preclude liability under all of these sources of law simultaneously, because the cases may not all be criminal, may not relate to the same criminal act, or may not be prosecuted by the same jurisdiction. Double jeopardy applies only in criminal prosecutions for the same offense undertaken by the same jurisdiction. In addition to the probation/parole officer, a plaintiff using the "deep pockets" approach may include as defendants anyone who had anything to do with the case. This could include supervisors as well as the government agency that employs the probation/parole officer; however, a State or Federal agency usually will have sovereign immunity unless waived through law or judicial decision. If civil liability is incurred as determined by the court, the defendant pays money to the plaintiff for damages caused. The plaintiff may also seek changes in agency policy or practice in addition to monetary compensation. Sanctions imposed if convicted of a criminal offense include time in jail or prison, probation, fine, restitution, or other sanctions authorized by law and imposed by the judge. Administrative sanctions include dismissal, demotion, transfer, reprimand, warning, or other sanctions authorized by agency policy or State law. Recommendations are offered for how to prevent civil and criminal liabilities when working as a probation/parole officer, as well as the maintenance of documentation of work and performance that can be used as evidence in a defense in either a civil or criminal proceeding.